Early-lactation diseases and fertility in 2 seasons of calving across US dairy herds

P. Pinedo, J. E.P. Santos, R. C. Chebel, K. N. Galvão, G. M. Schuenemann, R. C. Bicalho, R. O. Gilbert, S. Rodriguez Zas, C. M. Seabury, G. Rosa, W. W. Thatcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The objective of this study was to characterize incidences of health disorders during early lactation in a large population of Holstein cows calving in 2 seasons across multiple US dairy herds. In addition, cumulative effects of combinations of health-related events on fertility and survival by season of calving and parity number were tested. Data were prospectively collected from a total of 11,729 cows in 16 herds located in 2 regions in the United States [north (7,820 cows in 10 herds) and south (3,909 cows in 6 herds)]. Cows were enrolled at parturition and monitored weekly for disease occurrence, reproductive events, and survival. Health-related events were grouped into reproductive disorders (REP; dystocia, twins, retained fetal membranes, metritis, and clinical endometritis) and other disorders (OTH; subclinical ketosis, mastitis, displaced abomasum, and pneumonia). Counts of health events within 50 d postpartum were added into each of the groups and categorized as 0, 1, 2, 3, and ≥4 for REP and 0, 1, 2, and ≥3 for OTH. Multivariable logistic regression was used for testing potential associations between categories of disease occurrence and outcome variables, including resumption of ovarian cyclicity, pregnancy per artificial insemination (AI), pregnancy loss, and survival up to and after 50 DIM. The incidence of disease varied with season of calving and parity, and these 2 variables were associated with the reproductive and survival outcomes. The size of the detrimental effect of disease incidence on reproduction and survival depended on disease group and varied for each specific outcome. Resumption of ovarian cyclicity decreased as incidences of disorders increased in both REP and OTH categories. Pregnancy at first AI also was smaller in greater number of REP categories, but the effect of number of OTH categories on pregnancy at first AI was not consistent. Similarly, pregnancy loss at first AI was not affected consistently by REP or OTH. Survival was reduced by REP and OTH. The magnitude of these negative effects was variable, depending on season of calving and parity, but consistently increased with the number of health events during early lactation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10560-10576
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • disease
  • fertility
  • multistate
  • transition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Genetics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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